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Victory in doubles gives US the edge

LEUVEN, Belgium -- The Bryan brothers put the United States within one victory of keeping its place in the elite group of Davis Cup, winning in doubles yesterday against Belgium's Olivier Rochus and Kristof Vliegen.

Twins Bob and Mike Bryan won, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-1, 6-3, to give the US a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series. They targeted the 130th-ranked Vliegen, whose unforced errors gave the Americans several easy points.

The US can win the playoff if Andy Roddick beats 31st-ranked Rochus in today's first reverse single. If not, it will come down to James Blake against Olivier's older brother, Christophe. The Americans would be relegated from the World Group for the first time in 17 years if they lose both.

On Friday, Olivier Rochus beat Blake in straight sets before Roddick did the same to Christophe. Xavier Malisse, perhaps Belgium's best player, is not on the team because of a dispute.

The US, which has won 31 Davis Cup titles, is out of contention this year. The field has been narrowed to the semifinals: Argentina at Slovakia, Russia at Croatia. Slovakia and Croatia won doubles matches yesterday and lead, 2-1.

The Bryans, winners at the US Open two weeks ago, anticipated each other's position and repeatedly put Vliegen in trouble.

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